On Friday afternoon, the province announced a new supportive housing facility in downtown Maple Ridge to replace modular housing for homeless people on Royal Crescent.
Construction will begin immediately, as the province uses its authority to sidestep Maple Ridge City Hall.
The Mods, as they are commonly referred to, are portable trailers that were installed on the site three years ago, to house people who had been at the Anita Place Tent City.
The B.C. government is moving ahead with new purpose-built supportive homes, located on lots 11685-11695 Fraser St. and 11686 224th St. The project will provide 52 new units of permanent housing with supports for people currently living in the temporary housing at 22548 Royal Cr.
Construction will start immediately.
Given the urgent need to replace the aging temporary units at Royal Crescent, which are at the end of their lifespan, the province is accelerating the project straight to construction using its authority under the Interpretation Act, said a government press release. This is commonly known as statutory immunity.
The province, BC Housing and the City of Maple Ridge worked together to find an alternative site but were unable to find a mutually agreeable site in time.
David Eby, the Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, told The News that the province and city worked to find a location, but ultimately ran out of time, as the modular housing is falling apart.
He was not critical of the city, and said Mayor Mike Morden “entered into this in a good-faith way, and so did we.”
The province proceeding via statutory immunity is necessary, because of the urgency to get people out of The Mods and into a better living arrangement.
“We’ve pushed our timelines to the very end,” said Eby.
He added that the lack of an agreed-upon site is frustrating for him, and will no doubt be frustrating for the city, but said they will work together on more housing projects in the near future.
“Our relationship is much better with the city than it has been in the past, on this issue,” said Eby.
Morden was surprised by Friday’s announcement.
“Myself, Minister Eby along with our local MLAs, Minister Beare and Bob D’Eith, have been working together diligently on the immediate task of Royal Crescent as well as on other considerable very welcome housing investments proposed for our city,” said Morden in a statement released Saturday. “The timing and content of the announcement by BC Housing was very unexpected.
“There are still many questions remaining and we will reserve further comment on this announcement until council has the opportunity to discuss the decision and it’s implications.”
Council nest meets on Nov. 16.
“People in Maple Ridge deserve a place to call home,” said Lisa Beare, MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows. “We can’t afford to go back to a time when there were big encampments in our community.”
“Royal Crescent was an emergency solution that helped us close down the Anita Place encampment, but we always said it was temporary. I’m proud we’re fulfilling on our promise today with a plan to close down the Royal Crescent modulars, provide better permanent homes and care for people, and build new affordable rental homes for seniors at Royal Crescent.”
Residents are expected to move to the new building by summer 2022, at which point the Royal Crescent site will be shut down and the modular units removed. Once the Royal Crescent site is vacated, BC Housing will explore new affordable rental housing development options for seniors there.
“We’re building more housing for more people in Maple Ridge,” said Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission. “We’re moving quickly on one part of this to meet urgent needs, and we’re working with the city on a whole range of new proposed housing for Maple Ridge – like new recovery-focused homes.”
BC Housing will also host a series of virtual information sessions where community members can learn more about the new supportive homes at Fraser Street and 224th Street. Dates and registration will be shared in the next few weeks on BC Housing’s Let’s Talk Housing page: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/maple-ridge-fraser-and-224th
The new supportive homes will feature 24-7 staff on site, controlled access, an enclosed outdoor space for residents to gather, a new amenity space, and a range of on-site supports.
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